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Avenue Q
Photograph: Carol RoseggAvenue Q

Get tickets to the best Off Broadway shows for only $20

Written by
David Cote

Thrifty theatergoers rejoice: the Off Broadway Alliance’s 20at20 offer is back. Now in its ninth year, 20at20 gets you $20 tickets 20 minutes before curtain at several of the best Off Broadway shows. Sure, the particular performance may be sold out, but there’s a good chance you’ll get in. The offer goes from Sept 14–Oct 4; it’s a great alternative if the prices for Broadway Week are still too steep.

Here are 10 shows we think are worth a sawbuck at the last minute:

39 Steps
The dialogue is lifted pretty much verbatim from Hitchcock’s 1935 film classic in this thriller spoof, but it’s the silly stage business (patently artificial, intentionally flubbed) that milks the laughs. Protean supporting actor Arnie Burton, reprising his 2008 Broadway role, carries this welcome revival.

Avenue Q
After many years, the sassy and clever puppet musical remains a sly, winning piece of metamusical tomfoolery. Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx’s deft Sesame Street–esque novelty tunes about porn and racism still earn their laughs.

Cloud Nine
The Atlantic begins its 30th anniversary with one of the great plays to come from the other side of the pond in the past half century: Caryl Churchill's 1979 gender- and history-twisting diptych, set first in British colonial Africa and then in modern London. Churchill expert James MacDonald (Love and Information) directs, with a promising cast that includes Brooke Bloom (You Got Older).

Daddy Long Legs
An orphan develops an intimate epistolary relationship with the anonymous benefactor who sends her to college in a musical adaptation of Jean Webster's 1912 novel, featuring a score by Paul Gordon and a book by director John Caird (the original Les Misérables). Megan McGinnis and Paul Alexander Nolan star.

Writer and performer Staceyann Chin describes her journey as a single woman, lesbian and activist who desperately wants a child. Cynthia Nixon directs this highly personal and timely one-woman show, and Rosie O’Donnell is producer.

The New Morality
The dramatic archeologists of the Mint unearth another potential treasure: a satirical comedy of manners by Harold Chapin, a promising writer who died fighting for England in World War I.

Ruthless! The Musical
Marvin Laird and Joel Paley revive their 1992 musical about a little blond song-and-dance sociopath and her ambivalent stage mother. It's a world in which everyone wants to be in showbiz, and talent is a kind of hereditary disease. The self-assured Tori Murray plays the Shirley Temple of doom in this enjoyable slice of cyanide birthday cake.

This shrewd garbage heap of clog dancing, prop comedy and chest-thumping percussion spins out impressive variations on vaudeville by way of English punk.

The Imbible: A Spirited History of Drinking
Mixing whimsy and information, Anthony Caporale makes the story of our relationship with alcohol remarkably compelling. And the show's enjoyable lessons can be washed down with thematically appropriate beverages.

Travels with My Aunt
The shrewdly nostalgic Keen Company revives Graham Greene’s tale of mild-mannered retired banker and his flamboyant, fearless relation, who leads him into a series of international adventures. Twenty-five characters are played by four versatile performers: Daniel Jenkins, Jay Russell, Thomas Jay Ryan, and Jonathan Spivey.

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